Tag - Sonja Rasula

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UNIQUE LOS ANGELES- SPRING '09 EDITION
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UNIQUE LOS ANGELES: 12/13-12/14

UNIQUE LOS ANGELES- SPRING '09 EDITION

Yep, it’s that time of the year again…Shoppers converged to the thirteenth floor penthouse of the California Market Center for the Spring Edition of Unique Los Angeles- the independent designer gift show. This year, over 7,000 people shopped the 270 vendors, including familiar ones from December’s show. Ecobooma, specializing in Earth-friendly tees and totes, their partner company, Jenkins Jellies, known for their decadent organic homemade jellies, the creative wire-wrapped jewelry from Namaste Creations. Their website is officially up and running, go to www.namastecreations.com, Tucker Paisley, who were showing their new purse line and floral print dresses that would be perfect for a day out at the OC beach cities, Rojas, designer Freddie Rojas had plaid bustier dresses that made me want to scream, “I’m mad for plaid!” Another key piece is the knee-length leggings with fringe running down the sides of the legs. Lastly, my friend, Liz Abbott of Leatherette Hearts, showed me a recent piece from her collection… the Michael Jackson (or MJ for short) shirt. She had screen printed his mug shot as a repeated pattern. Very chic! **For contact info on these companies, please refer back to the first UNIQUE LOS ANGELES blog**

Ok and moving on to the newbies of this year’s Unique (or maybe they were there last year but I just didn’t see them.) I would like to start out with Dust & Co, an all women owned company created by Jill Stevens. She designs jewelry and totes that are eco-friendly. Her amazing necklaces made with vintage car emblems immediately caught my eye, cause I am also on the lookout for new or vintage BMW emblems myself. I made my way further into her booth and discovered a treasure-trove of vintage goodness. Necklaces, earrings, cufflinks that were made from optical lenses, watch parts from the 1800’s/Art Deco/ Mid-Century periods and vintage keys. I would also like to mention one of her totes with the saying, “Fuck You and Your Prius”… such a riot…now if only she can make one with “Fuck You and Your BMW (or Beemer)” Her collection can be found at www.dustdesignco.com.

Weeks before the show, I had learned that Maria Peralta from Devious Damzels, would be showing her line at Unique. You may know her from Project Ethos Fame in my Ethos write-up. She had also shown at December’s show. Maria was ecstatic to once again be apart of Unique…She feels that it’s like being apart of the LA community and she enjoys sharing the creative space with other artists, such as Dim Mak. Her love of neon really showed in her collection. She had an updated version of the LA shirt and had her signature piece, the fuschia “Miss Rockwell” pin-up (for the inner burlesque star in you.) She also had a sample for clients to view the latest treatment to her line, flocking and is also introducing her men’s line, due out by the end of the year. The price points for her shirts run from $25- 50. For more information, go to www.deviousdamzels.com.

Sharing the space with Maria is her friend, Daisy Romero, jewelry designer and photographer. Daisy owns El Cholo’s Kid by LA Daisy, a jewelry company based on religious imagery and the Mexican culture. The name, “El Cholo’s Kid” derived from when Daisy’s father was young. He was nicknamed, “El Cholo.” When Daisy went back to Mexico,  the neighborhood kids would say, “Hey, it’s El Cholo’s Kid!” And voila….the rest they say…is history. Her pieces range from religious like the necklaces with small rosary boxes and pictures of Jesus and Mary on the front to the kitschy, like the neon headbands with dancing skeletons, some with skirts and others with ponchos and sombreros and lastly, barrettes with Mariache figurines. Daisy finds her pieces whenever she travels to Mexico and then brings them home to LA, sits at her kitchen table and puts them together. Her pieces of gawdy “ghettoness” are ranged from $5- 30, which I think is well worth it to add some ‘flare’ to a plain, dawdy outfit. To shop her line or check out her photography, go to www.ladaisy.com or info@ladaisy.com.

As I was perusing though the booths, my eyes landed upon a sleeveless dress with the skirt made from a wool scarf from a flea market. I just had to approach the designer. The company is Sea Pony, owned by Fati Beloved. Beloved has been designing for fifteen years and creates everything from scratch. Since she drapes, her fabrics of choice are silks and satins, but also likes to challenge herself by using difficult fabrics as well. She finds inspiration through her friends behaviors and personalities. And also by doing custom designs for people. It’s interesting the ideas people come up with without any knowledge of garment construction that Fati, with her design knowledge has to interprete into a functional garment. She also does bridal. Her bow ties are $5, scoodies (scarf with a hoodie) are $40-50, jackets and skirts are $60-80, and dresses are $80-150. Contact Fati at seaponyclothing@gmail.com.

I stopped at another booth and admired fun handmade clutches, bracelets, headbands and necklaces. The designer peeked her head out and introduced herself as Wendy Gooie from FM Clothing. All her accessories are made from recycled fabrics from her line. The necklaces are made from silk, mesh and cotton and them, along with the leather hats were worn by MIA during her performance at Coachella. Other celebrities that have worn her line include Lindsay Lohan, who has been spotted wearing her signature headband and Rhianna, who has worn her leather hats. Signature pieces from her clothing line are a deep-v tunic and leather shorts. She owns a showroom at the LA Apparel Mart and her accessories range from $ 5-55 and $34-110 for clothing.

Browsing through the eco-friendly part of Unique, I came across wallets made from the “Caution” tape and fortunately, the designer was on hand to talk to. He is Ryan of Dip It Designs. He uses the “caution” tape and pom-pom pieces for wallets. And he uses the soy milk packs from Trader Joe’s to make wallets, coin purses, keychains, etc that go for $3- 25. His key piece is a bowl made from a recycled record and goes for $30. For more ‘dipiliciousness’, go to www.doubledipped.etsy.com.

Another accessories booth I found that had ‘unique’ products was Elisa Gonsalves Designs. Elisa has been in business for six years. Her inventory included beautiful long necklaces, chunky wire-wrapped rings, and headbands with feathers on the side. She does a lot of traveling and picks up her random key-pieces for her accessories, and also finds inspiration in the clutter in her room. Her pieces range from $20-300 depending on how detailed it is.  She is trying to make the products more affordable to people, due to the economy. Her collection is available online at www.elisagonsalves.com.

Sharing the booth with Elisa is her friend Virginia, of De La Luna Designs. “De La Luna” means “of the moon” in Spanish and is a company based on culture and life. She uses recycled purses, luggage, wallets and flasks and applies the applications on the fabrics. When she makes her products, which she likes to refer to as artistically useful products; she thinks about individualizing people. For more information, go to www.delalunadesigns.com.

Some other booths I found had interesting products include, Voz Clothing & Art by Jackie Sepulveda. She gets vintage and/or gently-used purses and bags and paints intricate designs on them. She also was selling rings and other jewelry with graffiti printed on them. Go to www.vozclothingandart.com. I stopped by 7Lightningbolt’s booth and LOVED their handmade cuff bracelets and my friend from Chicago loved the scarves. Their collection is available at www.7lightningbolt.com. I found a company that sold wallets, card holders, condom cases, etc that are made from laminated paper (with fun prints, like a map of LA with Culver City circled) which is then sewn with clear vinyl. The designer is Jamila Tazewell and her company is 11:11 Enterprises. For more info, check out www.eleveneleven.net. Where can you find Chanel earrings with hotdog charms? Or a beautiful cascade necklace made from rings? Jen Martin Jewelry! She has a shop at www.radness.etsy.com. Marlene and I picked up fun, yet small heart-shaped sunglasses, plastic toy dinosaurs, lollipops and posters at the Dim Mak  (by DJ Steve Aoki) booth. We were also salivating over the yummy cupcakes they had sitting and luring people to the booth with their yummyness. I want to give a special shout-out to one of the sales reps, Melissa, who answering a few questions and also was responsible for deconstructing a few of the tees. Check out www.dimmak.com! The Weekend Store (who vended at Felt Club) was there. Designer Adjowah Brodie was on hand to inform me that, along with the vintage typewriter key charms, earrings, necklaces and bracelets decorated from watch parts; she had new necklaces with prints made from bird pictures from 1940’s books. Visit www.theweekendstore.com for more details. Lastly, thanks to Marlene’s keen eye, we saw a belt with a Victorian hands buckle. It was definitely a one-of-a-kind item that I’ve never seen before. You can read more about the company, Kim White Handbags at www.kimwhitehandbags.com.

Congratulations Sonja Rasula on another show well done!! Thank you again to all the volunteers and sponsors! And thank you Marlene Halper, it was great seeing you! Glad you had a fantastic time!!

UNIQUE LOS ANGELES: 12/13-12/14

              The cold weather that hit Los Angeles this weekend didn’t seem to put a damper on the holiday shoppers that flocked to the California Market Center in search of last minute  gifts at the first annual Unique Los Angeles gift and design show. The show boasted over 200 vendors, as well as booths by the LA Weekly and Myspace Music. There were drink promotions by Izze, Bossa Nova and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

               I had a chance to sit down with the founder of Unique Los Angeles, Sonja Rasula. She not only is the creator of this wonderful event, but she has a line of stationary that she was selling there as well. She developed the concept of having an independent designer show in later September of 2008. She wanted people to realize the value and worth of design. She wanted a modern, fresh way for people to shop, without having to shop at a mall.

        I was also curious to see if the current economy has had an impact on the vendors and what her prediction for the consumers. Due to it being the end of the year, some merchants had items left over. Others were fine, however there were some stores that had to close in the past few months . This show was a great way to help them sell their extra merchandise and get their name out there. As for the consumers, the prediction is that people don’t have the money that they did a few months back, though there was something for very budget. I must add as a personal observation, that it is different from buying at a mall. Buying local means that you can meet the person(s) that make the products and there is a one-on-one relationship between the transactions.

         There were a few designers that have celebrity status in the fashion industry and had booths at the show, such as Rojas, who recently was featured at the BoxEight shows during fashion week. Freddie Rojas is a men’s and women’s designer based in LA and does four collections a year. He chose to be amongst the vendors due to overstock and it’s a great way to promote his line. Among his signature pieces are tie necklaces-little bow ties and skinny long ties on a chain that both sexes can wear dressed up or down. This season, he updated the cardigan. One style with kimono sleeves, pockets and an elongated body. Another version is a draped body with no sleeves. Personally, I loved them both and was eyeing the men’s Mondrian printed tee, which would look great with leggings and boots. You can view his collections at www.rojasonline.com.

I also ran into Smoke and Mirrors designer, Emily Brandle, of Project Runway fame.  She, along with business partner, Michelle Chaplain, started the line in late 2006. Ms. Brandle was on ‘Project Runway Season Five’ during the summer and fall. She wanted to include pieces (for the show) that would be good for the fall. One of the key pieces was a cute reversible flipside jacket. Her line is available online at www.smokeandmirrorsclothing.com.

Other fashion designers I thought were interesting were ‘Clothing of the American Mind’, an eco-friendly company that launched in 2004, the one year anniversary of the Iraq War. They sold tees at one of the LA rallies. COTAM raises money for other progressive organizations with the sale of their t-shirts. Some tees are connected to specific organizations, such as: HCLW and Unscrw America. There is a special tee with the slogan, “Love Across Barriers” designed by Project Runway contestant Jack Mackenroth. This tee was launched on December 1st, World AIDS Day. Most of their tees are made with polyester, spun from recycle bottles and organic cotton. Check them out at www.cotam.org. Two of my designer friends shared a booth at the show. Corrie Hill Sullivan, a children’s designer and Julia LoVan. This is Corrie’s second craft show. She has been interested in baby clothes and interiors since she finished college. After she moved to LA from Ireland, she has worked for several designers before started her line. She finds inspiration through color, fabrics and textiles. She believes that it’s important that each child has something individual and handmade. For more of her beautiful designs, go to www.corriehill.com. For my other friend, Julia LoVan, Unique Los Angeles is her first big show. Over the years, she has designed under different names, however, in July 2008, she started Julia LoVan Dresses. Her specialties are dresses, totes and handpainted tees. She also specializes in DIYing vintage pieces from the dollar sales at Jet Rag on LaBrea. Her totes, made from vintage fabrics are one of her best-sellers. She finds inspiration everywhere from junior-high kids and kids where she works to magazines and style.com; though her biggest inspiration is from God. Whenever she makes something, she prays a lot. She is currently working on getting one of her dresses mass-produced. Her prices points range from $50-60 for a tee to the low $100’s for when the dresses get mass-produced. For more on Julia, tune in to www.julialovandresses.etsy.com.

There were many jewelry lines at the show. A few that caught my interest were, Tiger Lily by Heather Gardner. Gardner is based in Malibu. Since Heather was not present at the show, I spoke to her assistant, Ally. She told me that Heather loves nature. She finds her inspiration in Malibu and nature. She loves making jewelry that is delicate and that women can wear. Her pieces are very versatile. They can be worn long or short or even in layers. Her pieces range from $60-200 and $65 for earrings. For more of her line, go to www.tigerlilycollections.com. Another line had some very cute handcrafted fruit necklaces. Go to www.juliabristowjewelry.com. At a booth that she shared with an Eco-Friendly company, jewelry designer Amy Annab, who created beautiful bracelets and earrings from gemstones and ornate wire-wrapping. She is reachable via www.myspace.com/namastecreations. Another booth had pop-art jewelry for sale. Product designer (as he likes to refer himself) Steven Shein loves to play with color, line and form. He sells globally and at Fred Segal. The line has a celebrity following and he is doing a collaboration in February with Toki Doki. His words of wisdom, “Fashion shouldn’t be taken too seriously…” Check out his fab line at www.shopstevenshein.com. The last line that caught my eye was Myfriendroze. Some wares in particular were the necklaces, bracelets, etc, made from molds of bubble wrap, which designer Rose Braunstein made. She made the cast and then made the pieces out of sterling silver. She loved popping the packing material as a kid. (Let’s face it, who doesn’t?) Her other inspirations were circles, which are never ending. You can reach her at www.myfriendroze.com.

In the midst of all the handmade goodness, I came across an oasis, known as The Body Bar. I then saw a sign beckoning customers with a “$25 massage.” I just had to stop by. I spoke to the massage therapist, Roxi and she told me that the massage was 25 minutes, basically $1 per minute. Knowing my budget was tight, I told her I would be back later. I thanked her and then walked away. After a few minutes, there was a tap on my shoulder. It was Roxi. She told me she spoke with her manager, Julie and since they haven’t had any customers yet, I could be the ‘guinea pig.’ I gladly accepted, knowing that my aching shoulders would thank me. Roxi did a fantastic job and when visit the Body Bar in Silverlake, I will ask for her. Before I left, I also received another perk. An eyebrow waxing by the fabulous Vivian. She was quick and the end result were two perfectly arched brows.

For the last leg of the journey, I would like to point out (despite this being a fashion blog) that there were also some great handbag, as well as photographers and all things kitsch. There was a booth with leather purses that have been seen on the arm of Hayden Panetierre and other celebs. The line is Tucker Paisley and was created by Tracy Franklin, who also founded www.stylechick.com with business partner, Kevin Tidwell. Stylechick.com is a great site to network with other fashionistas and industry insiders. And check out www.tuckerpaisley.com. There was an eco-friendly portion of the show, one booth in particular was Ecobooma, Inc. And just who is responsible for this line of environmentally conscious and extremely fashionable totes and tees? Ms. Hillary Danner. The company is 100% women owned and are geared toward manufacturing here in the States. As they want to support the country they live in. Danner, along with Maria Newman also have a parent company, Jenkins Jellies, which they make right at home on their stove and is of course organic. I had the opportunity to taste the mandarin marmalade and it was wonderful. Check out this great company at www.ecobooma.com.

Now I don’t know about ya’ll, but I am a fan of kitsch. Pamela Barsky’s booth was definitely the right fit! There were fabric buttons and fun little buttons with slogans and pictures of states. Journals on divorce and therapy and luggage tags that were uber-hilarious. Ms. Barsky designed everything herself. Go to www.pamelabarsky.com for more information! I also stopped by a booth run by Portland, Oregon photographer, Misha Ashton. She had prints, prints on woodblocks and abstract photo jewelry available. Her work is amazing, you must check out her site at www.mishaashton.com.

For more info on UNIQUE LOS ANGELES, check out www.uniquelosangeles.com. The next show is scheduled for May 2009. I want to extend a special thanks to the volunteers! You guys are awesome! I can’t wait to work with you again!!!!

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